Cedar Park Christian Schools are a ministry and an integral part of Cedar Park Assembly of God Church and, therefore, the CPCS School Board’s authority falls directly under Cedar Park Assembly’s Board of Directors and its policies. As a ministry of Cedar Park Assembly of God, all CPCS policies, procedures, and practices are in alignment and follow in accordance with Cedar Park Assembly of God’s governing documents (including, but not limited to, its constitution and bylaws.)
The Cedar Park Christian School District is one of the largest evangelical Christian school districts in America. The entire staff is committed to ensuring this institution remains focused on the calling of transforming the hearts and minds of young people towards Christ.
The general definition of the purpose of education is to teach critical thinking skills and to pass the values, traditions, and loyalties of a culture from one generation to the next. In a day when many churches are floundering for creative methods of influencing an increasingly pagan culture with the message of Christ, Cedar Park Assembly of God has established one of the most needed and effective ministries possible for reaching America’s young people for Christ. Recently, Cedar Park Christian was rated as the best educational value in the region by the Puget Sound Business Journal. The Journal rated schools in the areas of tuition, annual test scores, college acceptance rates, educational opportunities, and extracurricular excellence.
Cedar Park Christian partners with parents with the goal of guiding children towards a saving relationship with Jesus Christ and establishing a Christian worldview in the hearts and minds of students. Cedar Park Christian Schools, and others like it, offer a means of influencing families towards Christ and traditional Christian values in a non-intrusive and cost-effective manner.
The history of Cedar Park Christian Schools and Assembly of God describes a heritage of growth and vision. Pastor George Johnson started Cedar Park Assembly in 1970 by renting Peter Kirk Elementary School in Kirkland, Washington. In 1975, the church bought five acres on Juanita-Woodinville Road in Kirkland and built a 13,000 square foot building including a sanctuary seating 300 with additional educational space. In 1979, Pastor Joe Fuiten replaced Pastor Johnson and initiated the vision of starting a Christian school. Cedar Park Christian School (“CPCS”) was founded in 1982 by Pastor Fuiten with eight preschool students. The school has been an integral ministry of Cedar Park Assembly of God since its beginning and is considered a part of the Cedar Park Assembly of God Corporation.
In 1983, Cedar Park Assembly of God purchased eleven acres of land near the I-405 interchange in Bothell, at 16300 -112th Ave NE. In 1987, the new 45,000 square foot facility was completed, with a sanctuary seating over 1,000 people and additional educational space for the Christian school. Pastor Fuiten’s overall vision for the property was to develop a multi-faceted campus which serves the Puget Sound community in a variety of ways from cradle to grave including the school, a retirement center, a chapel and mausoleum, a counseling center, as well as a medical center and other opportunities which may arise.
The school was the first of several supplemental ministries established by Pastor Fuiten, and it has continued to grow into an essential element of Cedar Park Church. Certainly there have been trials and tribulations, as is common with any significant organization which deals with one’s religion, finances, and children.
The initial years of the school were filled with a multitude of financial and emotional ups and downs, including sacrifice followed by progress, contention followed by optimism, and strife followed by the school’s growth to several hundred students in kindergarten through eighth grade. During the late 1980’s until the mid-1990’s, the school endured a series of five administrators during a ten-year period. Each administrator was sincere in their attempt to help, and Godly in their personal life, yet not experienced in Christian school education. As a result of the misguided leadership, teachers, school board personnel, and parent groups all attempted to exert pressure and fill the void caused by fluctuations in administrative styles. The instability and inconsistency led to schisms affecting the school’s student population, which fluctuated from a high of 320 to a low of 230 students. The financial health of the school and the personal relationships with church leadership and other church departments suffered considerably. Without stable leadership, both parent and student activists initiated impractical demands on the school and church leadership. Ultimately, a principal was relieved of his responsibilities and Pastor Fuiten and the church board discussed the possibility of closing the school since the financial burdens and rising tensions among the stakeholders were so substantial.
Before the 1994-95 school year, Dr. Clint Behrends was hired as principal. He immediately set about focusing on a new philosophic course for Cedar Park as a distinctively Christian school. Notable adjustments were initiated in the areas of philosophic messaging to the community, curriculum development, hiring practices, and new financial procedures and practices.
The Lord’s favor was immediately evident and a sense of confidence emerged within the church leadership and school families, as well as students and staff. The financial stress between the church and school was reversed when an $80,000.00 deficit was turned into a $40,000.00 surplus during the next school year. Enrollment and finances increased which enabled the church to move forward with its plans, including acquiring additional property to the immediate north and south sides of the original property. The southern 18 acres were essentially donated through a church trust agreement and two acres were immediately designated for development of a new high school. Several years later, another 19 acres north of the original site were acquired for the purpose of additional educational expansion.
Dr. Behrends often refers to a “window of opportunity” for Cedar Park Christian Schools to influence more homes with a Christian education by transforming hearts and minds of students towards a Christian worldview. During the first year, the Lord provided Dr. Behrends with a vision detailing the enrollment capacity and strategies of programs for a new high school at Cedar Park Christian School serving approximately 450 students, along with the elementary and middle school. The goal of 350-450 students appeared very ambitious considering the difficulties over the preceding ten years.
In 1996, construction permits were initiated with the City of the Bothell in anticipation that construction of a new high school would begin within a year or two. The master plan also included several additional school buildings including an eight-classroom elementary building, a twelve-classroom elementary building, and several other classroom facilities totaling thirty-eight classrooms and 45,000 square feet. Bureaucratic delays postponed securing a final high school construction permit for more than six years and, unfortunately, the delays renewed parental criticism and uncertainty concerning the school’s integrity and reliability.
As concern grew, a consulting firm was hired to conduct a study of fundraising potential. The study found that although families were incredibly pleased and satisfied with the school as a whole, there was substantial skepticism concerning the willingness of the church to follow through on investing funds for school purposes. Therefore, the school decided to initiate construction of the “A” and “B” buildings in 2000 with school operating funds. Parent criticism transitioned from one of skepticism, to cautious optimism, to assured optimism. The mid-1990 negativity that had reappeared faded, and a renewed vision and confidence emerged once again.
The student population at Cedar Park Christian began to increase significantly and it became apparent even with the new construction of the “A” and “B” buildings that the campus would soon be well beyond the student capacity. Providentially, in 2001 Cedar Park Christian was approached by another Assembly of God church in Bellevue inquiring if Cedar Park would be interested in administrating their Christian school, which had fallen into mismanagement.
This prospect opened another opportunity for CPCS, and Dr. Behrends approached the Church Board presenting his perspective of how it could fit into a grander vision for Cedar Park Christian Schools. He proposed that Bellevue, although born out of necessity, should be used as a prototype for a district model. The theory soon manifested itself into multiple campuses, which utilized common organizational resources, structures, principles, and leadership, with the goal of accomplishing them for less money through “economy of scale.” This concept also allowed Cedar Park Christian to continue expanding while this window of opportunity existed. Under this organizational strategy, each level of school was to be treated as an independent school, thus taking advantage of the chance to increase enrollment while keeping within the allotted 350 to 450 optimum number per school level established earlier.
Following Bellevue, other struggling Christian schools in in the region asked for consideration and soon Everett, Whidbey Island, and San Luis Obispo, California joined the district model. The largest acquisition of school property was made in December of 2007 when leaders at Cedar Park Christian Schools were approached by representatives from North Sound Christian Schools in Seattle to discuss the potential of Cedar Park Christian Schools purchasing their properties.
The North Sound Christian School District was originally formed when Snohomish County Christian merged with Fairview Christian, Heritage Christian, North Seattle Christian, and Shoreline Christian. Economic conditions and ineffective business practices eventually eroded the resources of the North Sound Christian District causing them to approach Cedar Park for help. Several of the NSC schools separated from the district in order to reestablish their autonomy. The NSC campuses involved in the offer to Cedar Park were a secondary campus located on 54th Ave. in Mountlake Terrace, an elementary campus located on 64th Ave. W. in the city of Lynnwood, and an additional vacant school campus located just off 164th St. in the community of Martha Lake in south Everett.
When Cedar Park was approached by North Sound Christian School Board representatives, an investigative committee was formed to explore the potential implications of purchasing the property. The committee consisted of the superintendent of CPCS, the General Counsel, Senior Pastor, and Chief Financial Officer of Cedar Park Assembly of God, and a real estate financial counselor from the church. Each member of the committee evaluated a specific area concerning the acquisition, including educational and financial aspects of the arrangement, and recommended moving forward since the church would gain 14 million dollars of assessed value for the purchase price of 4 million dollars. It is significant that the committee had only two weeks to appraise the validity of the project because of North Sound’s financial crisis, but did reach a consensus that Cedar Park would move forward. A Church Business Meeting was arranged for final approval and in January 2008, Cedar Park Christian Schools embarked on directing North Sound Christian Schools with a proposed budget of $3,123,000.
The concept of resuscitating another Christian ministry from certain financial disaster and potentially impacting more of the community with Christian education was central to Cedar Park’s general vision and philosophy, and therefore desirable. The potential for failure is always present and financial failure at one location inevitability has the potential to effect the entire organization. While it is the responsibility of leadership to recognize and act when God provides a window of opportunity, ultimately growth and success are in the hands of the Lord.
The inherent potential of Christian education to proclaim the Gospel of Christ through the transformation of hearts and minds is the motivation that drives the vision and mission of Cedar Park Christian Schools. It is the goal of Cedar Park Christian Schools to help students reason and think analytically through a variety of worldviews and philosophies and to pass Christian values, traditions, and loyalties on to future generations.
The Bible says that the men of Issachar “were men that had an understanding of the times,” to know what Israel ought to do.